Share with care this Christmas. If you own a smartphone or similar device. Read on..

December 2015

On Christmas day many people will be setting up the new devices that they have received for Christmas. It is the biggest day of the year for online and app downloads and experts are warning consumers to be cautious when sharing their personal information, as personal date becomes evermore vulnerable.

Earlier this year Apple announced the billionth download from their Apple App Store. Alongside the enormous growth in ownership of smartphones, tablets and ‘wearables’, such as smart phone watches, parents are finding increasing number of electronic toys are likely to rely on connectivity.  

High profile hacking cases in recent months, include Sony and TalkTalk.  One of the biggest leaks has affected more than 11 million parents and children across the world, with the breach of personal data involving Hong Kong-based toy giant VTech.  In the UK, it has involved 560,487 parent accounts and 727,155 children profiles.   The company says none of its customers' credit card data was stored or accessed but the information breach included parent names, email addresses, passwords, and secret question answers, as well as children's names, gender and birthdates.  Also affected was VTech’s Kid Connect service, which allows parents using a smartphone app to chat with their kids using a VTech tablet.  

 “Whether it’s shopping, banking or just chatting to friends and family, we are all doing more of our personal affairs online,“ said corporate legal expert, Sharon Stone at Parrott & Coales Solicitors in Aylesbury. “As technology becomes ever more complex, there are many more ways in which data can be vulnerable, beyond the obvious criminal hacking in to steal personal information. You need to be sure the organisation you are dealing with is going to protect your personal information.”

In order to deliver their functionality, many apps and websites pull together third party sources, such as social media and news feeds, and may link to code libraries hosted on third party websites for processing content. Personal information may not be held securely when passing through these links. An example is an app that collects location data and interlinks with social network by posting automatic updates that show a user’s position. This can expose the user to direct crime, such as burglary, if the user is away from their home address.

“It is important that businesses should be able to reassure customers that they have a strong cyber-security programme in place,” added Sharon Stone. “Before you download an app this Christmas take a look at the reviews and do some research.  Safeguard yourself by thinking about the way you interact with apps and software and avoid using the same passwords and memorable information.”

The UK’s independent authority responsible for data protection, The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) recommend that users only download from trusted or official app stores and to run security software on their mobile devices, whether it’s a smartphone, tablets or wearable.

Data collected by Companies from any user must meet the requirements of the Data Protection Act and the Communications Act in the UK; also up and coming is the EU Data Protection Regulation and the proposed EU Cybersecurity Directive.  

1 YouGov survey 2015 shows 22% of the population own a tablet and 6% own a wearable. 


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This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.







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